Saunas and Home Sauna Kits FAQs
At Cedarbrook Sauna + Steam, we build all our cedar saunas to your specifications
Cedar is the best on wood to absorb heat, but does not stay hot to the touch. Most start a wood sauna per se:
- Finish the inside of a room with a precut sauna kit. In this scenario, you attaching tongue and groove (T'n'G) cedar boards to the studs. We precut the boards to fit, so installation goes quickly. In this scenario, you are converting an existing closet or room in your house or spa, or perhaps build or convert a shed into a sauna. See our step-by-step article with "Converting a room into a Sauna" videos.
- You have open space and want a sauna room that assembles fairly quickly with very little construction mess. For this scenario, we designed our prefab modular home sauna kits. Prefab Home Sauna Kits assemble easily with pre-built insulated walls and ceiling panels that screw together and sit on a base of your choice (e.g., garage floor, brick patio, concrete pad, pressure-treated lumber), yet are still portable.
What's the basic different between these kits?
The prefab sauna kit (at left) is a panelized sauna that comes in prebuilt, modular panels that interlock into freestanding sturdy sauna room. Ceiling panels are set atop to enclose the room. The prefab can also be relocated. Prefab saunas are installed inside or outdoors with the addition of the optional roof.
The precut sauna kit (at right) is designed for new construction or situations where you have a small room already framed in. You frame and insulate your walls, ceiling, and door opening. Then add the door, cover the walls with tongue and groove, build sauna benches, finally trim it out. Precut saunas are permanent and cannot be relocated.
Supporting Sauna Articles
See: How to Build a Sauna | Setting up the DIY Prefab Modular Sauna Kit – shows you how quickly a sauna can go up.
See: How to Build a Sauna | Converting a Room to a Sauna – Article and videos demonstrate how to build a sauna in an extra room or even a closet.
How to Measure and Order a Precut Sauna Kit
First off, one question we always seem to get before this is "My sauna is custom... does that cost extra?"
No, absolutely not. Every sauna is custom at Cedarbrook Sauna + Steam.
See the steps below, when odering your sauna.
- MEASURE – You'll need to measure the existing room you're converting to a sauna. Download the Precut Sauna Field Measurement Form (Adobe Acrobat PDF)
- VIEW SAUNA SIZES – See our kits: residential precut saunas and commercial precut saunas
- PICK YOUR SAUNA – Pick the sauna package that best fits your room. If you measured a wall at 5 ft 9 inches, then round up to 6' foot). We'll cut it a 5'9"
- ORDER ONLINE or CALL – Order and then email us a sketch of your sauna room. See sample Precut Sauna Floor Plans
- WE SWEAT THE DETAILS – We'll have a conversation before, during and after your order (as needed), so your layout and dimensions are exact when it arrives. And answer any questions regarding your heater, etc
- WE SHIP YOUR PRECUT SAUNA – We ship the precut cedar, a sauna heater (substitutions may be made), sauna door, sauna accessories, and sauna benches.
Assembling the prefab outdoor sauna kit instructions
We've made our outdoor sauna kits assembly as easy as it gets
See our 10 Steps to Building the DIY Prefab Sauna Kit videos and article.
IMPORTANT: First note that the exterior size of our prefab modular saunas is 8" wider and longer than the size in the title of the prefab sauna kit product. In other words, a 5'x7' prefab sauna is 5'x7' on the INSIDE, the OUTSIDE or exterior measurement is 5'8' x 7'8" — 8" more. In a 5'x7' sauna, this means 8 more square feet to relax and stretch your legs out!
The 10 Steps to Building the DIY Prefab Sauna Kit videos and article does a very good job of explaining the progression.
You may notice that we built a wood base for this sauna demo, but you can use bricks, pavers, cement, tile, and pack gravel with pressure-treated wood. In fact, wood is great because you could relocate your sauna.
Sauna wall panels are never wider than 5’ and the panels can be requested in two pieces if the quarters are tight.
Our pre-built sauna walls form the walls and ceiling of your sauna room. Generally, we make the prefab walls 4' to 5' wide.
We understand you may be setting up your home sauna kit in your basement where perhaps maneuvering all the sauna parts may be difficult, up or down stairs, etc. So yes just let us know what panel width you require for your sauna scenario. And of course, our sauna kits include a prefab ceiling panel or two depending on the sauna dimensions and your requirements.
If I have a tight space like a stairaway with a tight corner, we can the modular wall panels be built in smaller sections so they can be carried into the desired space. This is easily done, just specify that you need the wall panels in two or three piece sections when you order.
Cedar is often recommended for saunas, and has many advantages over other woods such as, aspen and spruce
Features of using cedar wood for your sauna
- It's a beautiful, low-maintenance wood which resists mold and insects don't like it. We use Western Red Cedar. After heating your sauna, cedar emits a subtle scent of the forest. And even better, cedar saunas resist staining, discoloration and odor absorption. Cedar is a light-weight wood and remains comfortable to the touch at high temperatures, and resists splintering, too.
- Cedar is the softest and thus the coolest of all woods for the sauna.
- Cedar warms up quickly but not too hot to the touch.
- Cedar contains some natural resins, oils and tannins that give it antimicrobial qualities. These also act as a natural mildicide and helps keep the whole sauna in a more hygienic condition.
- You may read about the phenols that cedar gives off. These are basically molecules that you smell from the wood. They are non-toxic and most people enjoy the sweet smell of the cedar. Cedar is a very low density wood. This provides high insulative properties. Also cedar rates the highest on the stability range which keeps the wood from warping or cracking with the continuous heating and cooling and getting wet and drying out in the hot sauna environment. Cedar is also a beautiful wood with unique character and color in the grain structure.
For these reasons cedar is the most popular wood used in sauna rooms. Aspen and Poplar do not have these qualities and it is often hard to find in a high quality tongue and groove in these wood species. Most commercial sauna rooms are cedar, and if you have enjoyed these you are not one of the few who have a reaction to the cedar.
Aspen and Poplar are sometimes used in sauna rooms for people who have extreme chemical sensitivity or a known allergy to cedar. Less than 1% of people have any allergy to cedar and for those who do, prolonged direct contact can result in small red bumps on the skin which fade away quickly. A towel between the bather and the wood prevents this.
Regarding Cedar Wood Treatments
Also note that we sell an all natural water based sealer that forms a thin breathable layer of glass (silicon quartz based emulsion) over the wood which create a layer of protection between the bather and the wood. Not to mention it keeps the wood looking pristine for years.
We also provide an exterior oil based sealer that we have used for over two decades with great success on our outdoor sauna rooms. Se this link.
Prefab modular saunas can be disassembled and moved to another location
Thus they're often called Prefab Modular Saunas — making building a sauna fun, quick and reltive construction ease
This can be done with drill and a screw bit, and ideally a buddy. Taking them apart, almost the same but in reverse.
These packages require no framing or general construction work. A non-permeable floor is all that is required. Typical choices are a plastic sheet over a wood frame, deck top, cement slab, brick, or gravel.
Our standard rooms have clear cedar tongue and groove interiors and knotty bevel siding exteriors. OPTIONS: include extra wall windows, double-wide benches, bench facing, duckboard for the entire floor, built in electrical conduit. View our selection of prefab modular saunas.
Outdoor sauna options
Yes, you have several choices for an outdoor sauna installation:
- Buy a Cedarbrook panelized, modular sauna, and with the addition of our optional prefab roof kit, you are ready for any weather situation. Review our Prefab Outdoor Home Sauna Kits.
- If you already have an outdoor structure, you can assemble a Prefab Home Sauna Kit. These kits have no roof, but do have a ceiling, of course!
- Build your own structure with a waterproof roof and install a Precut Home Sauna Kit interior package on the inside of your insulated walls.
- We also offer a sauna roof kits. These are trusses with cedar sheeting or metal.
All our saunas and sauna kits are made of 100% natural western red cedar and NEVER treated with anything
So, categorically NO. We NEVER using anything but natural cedar wood. NO Glues, NO plywood, Just Cedar
None of our saunas are ever treated during their product cycle here at Cedarbrook Sauna + Steam. The wood comes without any stain, sealant or other chemicals and it stays exactly so, natural.
We do offer a variety of cedar exterior stains, sauna cleaners, sealers and wood treatments and recovery products for maintaining or restoring a home or spa sauna. See our Sauna Wood Treatments + Sauna Room Cleaners in our store.
I noticed the cedar runs horizontally on the cedar walls. Is there a vertical option so that you eliminate the seams between panels?
We offer interior T'n'G cedar sauna lining, either:
- ½” thick x 3½” wide net size stock. This has an 1/8” v groove, OR
- 11/16” thick x 3” wide net size stock. This has a ¼” v groove
Seams between panels only apply to the pre-fab modular saunas. If this is your sauna you're interested in and you want to run vertical we can do this but it will cost a bit more than our standard modular panels which do run horizontal.
If you are looking at a pre-cut package, the tongue and groove can run horizontal or vertical, your choice. Pricing for vertical vs horizontal and the 11/16” thick vs ½” thick may be a bit different depending on size. What size package are you looking at?
Interior lighting without the conduit made ready
Wiring your sauna without the conduit
Interior lighting could be wired by your electrician, who would use a tool called a fish tape, to feed wire through the inside of the panel. In some cases, you could certainly run your light wire up the outside wall in a conduit, and then bore a hole straight through the wall to the other side and place your light on the inside rather than the ceiling. See some sauna conduit photos here.
The other option is to remove the tongue'n'groove wood and run wiring through the wall, then replace them. The conduit is really for ease of installation, not to protect the wires from heat.
Some sauna bathers use a lantern, candles on the floor and some just prefer the flame of the wood-fired sauna heater. See some sauna lighting choices. Enjoy!
Electrical conduit for the sauna heater (or lights) in the panel walls
The conduit for a sauna heater, light J boxes and switch boxes typically runs up through the ceiling panel and out the top. Your electrician will then couple onto this conduit with another conduit and wires that are run in the field (outside the sauna). Customizations can be done if needed. Call with any questions.
We offer built-in conduits for the sauna heater control panel, lights and switches as well. This option will always save you money when hiring an electrician as it saves professional time and provides guidance. Furthermore you will end up with a more pleasing aesthetic.
In most cases, your electrician will bring the conduit and wire directly up the back wall and then across the top and over to the built in conduit. Good electricians will strap down any outside conduit, so it lays flat and is hidden from sight.
R Values for Insulation in our Sauna Wall Prefab Panels
We use R-11 insulation in our sauna prefab wall panels that are framed with cedar 2x3s
The tongue and groove cedar on the inside, the bevel cedar on the outside and the reflective sauna foil vapor barrier add up to a total R value of approximately 17-20 overall. It's also aided by the sauna foil vapor barrier.
We have shipped sauna packages to Alaska, bitter cold Midwest and New England states, as well as many high mountain regions through the years with great success!!!
Enjoy this pic of a 6'x8' Outdoor Sauna Kit + Post & Beam Porch + Heater + Accessories in the snow.
Do you use eco-insulation in your pre-built modular saunas?
We like and use Greenguard's speciality eco-insulation product until something better comes along
Our saunas are insullated with fiberglass batts (formalahyde free) of course. Also on the interior behind the all a natural cedar tongue and groove interior is the the reflective sauna foil vapor barrier and behing the exterior cedar bevel siding is tar paper for an additional exterior weather barrier. Our walls have an R factor of 20. We have been selling sauna rooms to the coldest regions of North America with great success.
It's NON-corrosive, NON-combustible, NON-flammable and pest-resistant, AND also formaldehyde-free. So there is NO off-gasing chemical smell. The eco-insulation is NON-colored, i.e. not pink, it's brown (the way insulation grows in the wild ;-).